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  • Writer's pictureAlex First

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Regent Theatre) - 105 minutes, plus interval

A new Pharoah has stepped into Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat.

Trevor Ashley, who played Edna Turnblad in Hairspray more than a decade ago, is that performer, who mimics Elvis in Las Vegas.

It is a role he will also play in the upcoming Sydney season at the Capitol Theatre.

At the Regent Theatre in Melbourne he is filling in for Shane Crawford until 1st January due to the latter’s pre-existing commitments.

Photos by Daniel Boud

Then Crawford returns from 4th January to see out the Melbourne season, which finishes on 8th January.

The timbre in Ashley’s voice is impressive and he can hold a tune. Pharoah only appears for the first time near the start of the second act.

When he does, he is unforgettable because it is with much fanfare and the audience gives him a rousing reception.

On his opening night, Ashley’s movements though were rather stiff. I dare say part of that was due to nervousness, not to overlook the fact that dancing isn’t his strong suit.

Still, Ashley has a strong stage presence and reappears with a well-received solo number in the encore.

As far as the show itself is concerned, this new, reimagined production is a delightful, fun, engaging and dynamic family musical.

Straight from the West End and wonderfully directed by Laurence Connor, it is based on the biblical character Joseph.

Seen as his father Jacob’s favourite son, Joseph is gifted a beautiful technicolor coat by his dad.

That enrages his 11 siblings, who sell him into slavery.

While serving Egyptian noble Potiphar, Joseph attracts the interest of Potiphar’s wife, but after refusing her advances he ends up in prison.

With an ability to interpret dreams, he is brought before Pharoah, who challenges Joseph to decipher his.

That Joseph does and soon finds himself as Pharaoh’s trusted right-hand man.

Meanwhile, Joseph’s long-lost family has fallen on hard times and without realising who he is they turn to him for help.

More than half a century after it was conceived and subsequently expanded, the music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics from Tim Rice remain ear pleasing.

Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat has a magical, cartoon-like quality about it, with more musical styles than I can recall seeing in any other big stage musical.

Everything from pop and rock to country and western, calypso and more are on show.

With musical direction from Peter Rutherford and musical supervision from John Rigby, the sound design is by Gareth Owen.

Add tap dancing and cheer leading to a truly diverse repertoire.

Dance and athleticism are key components of the musical and Joann M. Hunter’s choreography is superb.

The costuming is colourful (the coat Joseph receives from his father is a magnificent, multi-hued creation) and the sets spectacular.

In fact, all is suitably showy thanks to the efforts of set and costume designer Morgan Large, while Ben Cracknell’s lighting design is creative and captivating.

As the narrator of the piece, who also appears in various guises, Paulini is poised and sassy.

With the most mellifluous voice, Euan Fistrovic Doidge is a pleasure to listen to and triumphant as Joseph.

The talent also extends to the many children that appear in the show who receive widespread acclamation.

Overall, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is a highly imaginative, memorable and satisfying production that has much to get excited about.

As mentioned, it is playing at the Regent Theatre until 8th January, 2023 and opens at the Capitol Theatre in Sydney on 11th February.


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